Societal Issues

Hoboken Hasn’t Had A Traffic Death In 4 Years. What’s Right?

The city of Hoboken, New Jersey has achieved an amazing feat in traffic safety: they haven’t had a traffic death for four years now and counting. How did they do it? Hoboken is a firm believer in “daylighting,” a simple piece of street planning. Daylighting involves blocking off drivers from parking near intersections and crosswalks, preventing traffic accidents by ensuring both pedestrians and motorists have a clear view of the road. The forbidden parking spaces are blocked by a combination of bike racks, high-visibility crosswalks, curb extensions, or planters. Read full article here

Cloning’s Apologist

Embryonic stem cell therapy is a controversial medicinal procedure that involves harvesting stem cells—which can turn into any cell—from human embryos. It becomes even more hotly debated when you add cloning into the mix. Cloning would solve the supply issue; you can clone an embryo over and over again. But would that be killing people? Some scientists like Ian Wilmut, the face of the Dolly the cloned sheep experiment, say that it’s not, but it’s a hot topic even within the scientific community.
Read full article here

Fighting Crime By Checking Buildings, Not Suspects

The saying “prevention is better than cure” rings true even in crime reduction. Risk-based policing adds to traditional crimefighting measures by directing police efforts towards addressing crime-heavy areas, like abandoned buildings and dark alleys. How effective is it? Kansas City enjoyed a 22 percent drop in violent crimes in the areas that were affected by risk-based policing between March 2019 to March 2020. Proactive policing—arrests and interventions—also went down by a whopping 60 percent in that time too! Read full article here

Outer Space Treaties Didn’t Anticipate The Privatization Of Space Travel. Can They Be Enforced?

You know how the saying goes: promises are made to be broken. Treaties are like promises among countries, mixed with more legal language; throughout history, many, many treaties have been violated. While countries have upheld the Outer Space Treaty so far, it might be violated in the future now that private companies like Elon’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin have joined the space race. Space has been seen as a place to only be visited temporarily for research, protecting it from exploitation—but perhaps not for long. Read full article here

Coffee Is The Spirit Of Exploitation In Brewed Form

Throughout history, coffee has been part of exploitation and human rights abuses. It was the reason why the dictator Idi Amin had Uganda in a chokehold for so long. Having had destroyed all of Uganda’s other industries by the 1970s, Amin depended on the coffee industry to fund his reign. American coffee roasters refused to stop importing Ugandan green coffee beans despite the blatant human rights violations in the country until 1978, when it was clear that the government was going to ban trade with Uganda anyway. Read full article here

How To Prevent The Coming Inhuman Future

“[I]s the future civilization still able to appreciate the works of Shakespeare?” Erik Hoel’s Shakespeare test could help judge if a possible future would be horrifyingly inhuman. Shakespeare’s works are reflections of humanity, so a society brimming with humanity would always appreciate them. He thinks a future with perfect humans (Nietzsche’s Übermensch) would be one of these horrifying futures. Designer babies who have been modified to be flawlessly beautiful and intelligent would disregard Shakespeare’s work. And why wouldn’t they? He was an “imperfect being” born before genetic modification. Read full article here

You Eat A Credit’s Card Worth Of Plastic Every Week

Flock worker’s lung was a condition that arose within workers of a Rhode Island plant that processed nylon flock. Nylon flock are short, plastic fibres used to make velvet-like materials used in upholstery, blankets, and clothing. These workers were three times more likely to develop lung cancer than other people in the area who didn’t work at the plant. When some of the dead workers’ lungs were examined, scientists found nylon fibres lodged in the lung tissue, making this the first known case of microplastics causing cancer in humans. Read full article here

From Restraining Orders To Assassinations, The Dangerous Work Of Saving The Monarchs

Every autumn, millions of monarch butterflies depart from the US and fly toward the Mexican state of Michoacán, home of oyamel fir forests. Due to human activity, however, their numbers are dwindling despite the best efforts of environmentalists who put their lives on the line to defend the monarchs. Champions of the orange butterflies in Mexico stare the possibility of death in the face daily, as their calls to preserve the forests put them at odds with cartels, illegal loggers, and even avocado farmers who want to exploit the forest. Read full article here

Is Social Media To Blame For Everything?

The rise of social media has been considered the source of many of society’s maladies, such as depression, polarisation of politics, and a general decline in people’s well-being. While it’s easier to blame society’s ills on the newest phenomena, Ian Leslie argues that many of these supposed negative effects were on the rise decades prior to social media. He’s more inclined to pin these on the long-term decline of organised religion, as multiple studies have shown that religious people are more likely to have higher well-being. Read full article here

42.90 Euros Per Arm: Inside A Creepy Global Body Parts Business

A vast majority of the human tissue imported into the United States comes from dead Ukrainians, thanks to Tutogen Medical GmbH and its Ukrainian partner Bioimplant. Although they’re engaged in illegal tissue trading, they are practically immune to Ukrainian authorities because the director of Bioimplant has close ties to the Ukrainian Health Ministry. Aside from that, Bioimplant claims that they extract tissue to turn it into bio-implants (which aren’t considered tissue), which makes it easier for the ministry to drop investigations against the company even if their claims aren’t true. Read full article here

FASCINATING READS, SUMMARISED

The occasional email full of conversation-worthy content